I entered a pole dancing competition despite my aversion to them, and learned that competing in the pole community and in general, unless it’s with myself, isn’t my bag but I’ve finally come to terms with admitting it.
The thought of competing with other people has always turned me off. I’m not afraid of it, however, I’d rather stay on the outskirts of a culture where we are taught to care about toxic opinions and to constantly be better, faster, smarter, stronger and intimidated by other people, seemingly without compassion. It creates an unhealthy environment that’s easy to get caught up in even when you try not to.
I realize that some competition with others is inevitable like, in the event of a job application. I’ve also participated in spelling bees, board games and things of that nature, so I am not oblivious but I don’t like what it does to people, self included, and now I realize that I just shouldn’t compete if I absolutely don’t have to, especially with regard to pole dancing.
I started pole dancing in 2011. For me, it has always been about fitness, strength, friends and confidence. I even worked up enough courage to perform in two showcases but there aren’t enough opportunities to simply just perform. It seems that many people in the pole dancing community seek validation in the form of competition, as if this is the only way to convince the rest of the world that pole dancing should be considered an actual sport but I digress. Eventually, I came across the chance to enter said competition (it doesn’t matter which one) and while my intuition begged me not to do it, I applied anyway. I figured it couldn’t hurt and reasoned with myself that it would be a good opportunity to perform and grow as an artist.
I didn’t get chosen and I immediately began beating myself up. I doubted my skills, wondered why I wasn’t good enough, chastised myself for entering and compared myself to dancers who made it–finding things that I felt were wrong with them that I could have done better. That is a version of myself that I don’t like. It’s one thing to constructively criticize yourself within reason, but succumbing to feelings of inadequacy is a recipe for falling into despair. Rejection is natural and common but it doesn’t always mean that you’re not good enough. It can simply means that it isn’t your season, but sometimes reasoning disappears when competitions are involved because we throw ourselves to the mercy of judgement and forget our other major triumphs, particularly trying in the first place.
I fell in love with pole for the camaraderie and the understanding of how hard it is and how much work it takes. Yet the culture of competitions seems to diminish those notions by forcing people to live up to expectations that may not be suited for them based on a variety of factors (body type, flexibility, etc). I’m not bashing competitions and I’ll graciously attend one since the dancers are amazing and inspiring, but they’re simply just not for me so, I’ll continue working on my personal craft until a neutral showcase comes along. Now enter patience, another life lesson that has yet to sink in.
This post is my contribution to the PDBA March blog hop.